The woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum) is a major pest of apple and pear trees, forming dense colonies that feed on the plant’s roots, shoots and fruit. The tiny insect is purple-brown, and becomes covered in fluffy white threads as it develops. When it feeds it injects poisons into the plant that cause galls to form. In the 1870s severe infestations nearly destroyed New Zealand’s young apple industry, but an Auckland grower noticed that the Northern Spy variety was resistant to the aphid. Northern Spy was easy to propagate, and it was used as a resistant rootstock to replant their infected orchards.
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